Brooklyn International Film Festival


The Brooklyn International Film Festival aims to popularize its borough as a refuge for cinephiles and to provide a safe haven for the latest in independent cinema—two goals that aren’t exactly compatible, simply because indie directors tend to be unknown quantities. This eighth edition, dubbed “Opinion_8,” has nominally been compiled as a showcase for films that tackle current events and politics. But rather than celebrating freedom of expression, the features previewed suggest young directors adhering to tried-and-true, often lurid formulas. In Erosion, a bored thirtysomething and her oily seducer break into other people’s houses for Last Tango-style trysts, albeit with clothes usually in place. Illicit sex also provides the thrust, so to speak, of You Are Alone, in which a Yale-accepted prostitute—decked out in Exotica schoolgirl costume—gets lukewarm and heavy with a moralistic neighbor. Steal Me observes adolescent yearnings in a blah American heartland setting, where a young kleptomaniac is taken in by the family (particularly the mom) he always wished he had. Oedipal tension rears its head again in A Perfect Fit, a sub-De Palma Hitchcock homage about another unbalanced but hunky boyfriend, predicated on psychology already dated when the master made Spellbound. Freudian notions of the unconscious are put to better use in Nightingale in a Music Box, a taut brainwashing thriller in which a federal agent sifts through an amnesiac’s fragmented memories, separating the real from the programmed. Like last year’s Primer, the movie evokes a quasi-futuristic milieu through overlit interiors and a torrent of expertly deployed technobabble. Ultimately a tad inconsequential, Nightingale nevertheless has its screws tightened—director Hurt McDermott is aware of his limitations and more than capable of thriving within them.